Periodontal disease is one of the most common causes of tooth loss but thankfully it’s preventable. Recognizing the early warning signs can help you intercept the infection while it’s still in the beginning stages of gingivitis.

Gingivitis vs. Periodontal Disease

Gingivitis is an infectious condition that causes inflamed, red gum tissues along the teeth. Typically it’s due to plaque buildup and a lapse in home care. But with improved brushing and daily flossing, most gingivitis cases are 100% reversible within a couple of weeks.

Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more aggressive tissue infection. Tissues ultimately detach from your tooth root and create deep “pockets” around them. Bone loss is also common. At this stage of the disease, tartar buildup is typical. Unfortunately, tartar cannot be removed through brushing and flossing, so professional care is required to stop the cycle before it results in tooth loss.

Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

How can you tell if you have gum disease? Watch for these signs:

Gums that bleed when you brush or floss

Tooth mobility

Gum recession

Bad breath

Visible tartar buildup

Sore, swollen gums

Gaps between teeth

Sore teeth when eating

If you smoke, you may not see the same inflammation, redness or swelling of your gums that a non-smoker will experience.

As part of your exam, Dr. Downing Moua, Dr. Thomas Vu, or our hygienist will measure the depth of periodontal pockets around each tooth. These readings help us determine the extent of tissue loss that has occurred. Any pockets up to 3mm deep are considered within the healthy range but deeper pockets reflect the loss of gum attachment and bone.

Since brushing, flossing and preventative cleanings do not impact the root surfaces of periodontal pockets, a series of deep cleanings are required when there is an active infection. Also called a scaling and root planning, these more involved, therapeutic cleanings eliminate tartar deposits to remove the source of bacterial infection.

Most deep cleanings are performed one-half of the mouth at a time since local anesthetic is typically used. If you prefer, you can also request sedation to help you relax a bit further (although it’s not necessary).

Following your deep cleanings, we’ll place you on a maintenance schedule to assess your gum health and improvement. The goal is to prevent relapse and stabilize your teeth before additional bone loss occurs. Our hygienist will also work with you to develop a personalized oral hygiene plan to avoid recurring infections around your teeth.

For individuals with chronic gum infections, we may recommend incorporating a CariFree regimen to help calm down the affected tissues. This inexpensive yet effective product helps control more moderate cases of gum disease when combined with therapeutic deep cleanings.

If you’re still not responding to conventional gum treatments, Dr. Moua or Dr. Vu will order an OralDNA test. This test allows us to pinpoint exactly which type of bacterial strains are present inside of your mouth so that we can place you on a customized antibacterial regimen to bring the infection under control. OralDNA is reserved for the most difficult cases and is extremely beneficial to our patients with chronic periodontitis.

Bleeding Gums? Contact Us

Healthy gums don’t bleed. Timely periodontal treatment can help you save your smile before it’s too late. Contact us to reserve an exam and screening.

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